Editorial – Testing questionable

Editorial as it appeared in the April 9, 2014 Grand Forks Gazette.

With spring finally here and warmer weather all around, more people are heading outdoors for walking and hiking and biking. Unfortunately, spring weather also means tick season.Ticks can carry Lyme disease and other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is rare. Fortunately, only one per cent of ticks tested by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) carry Lyme disease and most of those are in the Lower Mainland.Most tick species in the interior are wood ticks, which do not carry the Lyme disease bacteria.The infected bite features a skin rash that looks like a ‘bull’s eye’ and symptoms include fever, headache and muscle and joint pain.“Covering up before you head outdoors and checking for ticks when returning from a walk, hike or bike ride are simple things that go a long way to prevent tick bites,” says Dr. Karin Goodison, a public health physician with Interior Health. “Most tick bites do not cause illnesses; however, any bite from a tick or other insects should be cleaned with soap and water because infection can occur whenever there is a break in the skin.”A recent parliamentary bill, C-442, introduced by Green Party leader Elizabeth May has brought Lyme disease into the forefront of the news again.Lyme disease is often seen as being misdiagnosed and mistreated. Many patients seek testing and treatment in the United States, where there tends to be more private clinics which may not have the same level of government scrutiny than in B.C.We certainly can’t blame people for wanting to exhaust all possibilities when it comes to our health and our family’s health.The Green Party may be a fringe party in the grand scheme of Canadian politics, but the bill brought forward from May is right on the money.The country, and certainly B.C., needs to bring together those who work in the health industry to better improve the Lyme disease policy and guidelines for testing and treatment.For people like the Gilbert-Schwartzes, having to travel to the U.S. and paying exorbitant costs to receive treatment is unacceptable.

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